What’s the deal with Networks?

After spending what seems like an eternity in trying to create this gif, with an internet connection that makes carrier pigeon look like a faster alternative, I finally understand the importance of networking.

The phenomena of scale and speed ultimately changed the way information was to be shared. It provided global control and coordination to a world that was on the brink of innovation at the time.

Manuel Castells believes networking “structures society” in relation to information and technology, in which I have to agree with this ideology. Networking has ultimately changed the way information is sent, whether its through centralised or decentralised networking, the way messages can be sent between users has significantly improved since the introduction, creating a “global village” a term coined by professor Marshall McLuhan.

Throwing it back to the first week’s reading by Kevin Kelly, from our perspective, networking at the moment is awesome, but I wonder what it will be like in 30 years time?

 

 

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Fan activism has become a popularised term for fans who utilise the fan culture of a media product, such as films, television shows and sports, as a means to engage in forms of civil and political issues (Jenkins and Shresthova 2012). Social media has provided itself as a platform for fan activism, especially through Twitter, where millions of people can use hashtags as a way to promote issues, such as the representation of racial minorities in the media (Lopez, 2011) or to support the ideals expressed by the fandom. One example of fan activism is the boycott by footballing fans, especially those from the United Kingdom, towards Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid, The Sun.

The Sun has been widely considered as one of the most controversial tabloid newspapers being published in the United Kingdom. Its fabrication of interviews, immoral actions to get the inside scoop and the number of controversial headlines has seen Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid become the centre of a boycotting campaign. The campaign is being led by fans of both Merseyside football clubs Liverpool and Everton.

The Sun has been boycotted before by Liverpool, after the newspaper produced a controversial headline surrounding the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989. The Hillsborough disaster had resulted in the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans, some as young as ten years old. The Sun claimed to have the ‘real story’ surrounding the disaster, where they quoted an unnamed police officer in the article called The Truth, published by editor Kelvin Mackenzie. The officer had stated that some of the Liverpool supporters were pick-pocketing the bodies, urinating on the lifeless bodies and even beating up police officers who tried to resuscitate some of the victims. The controversial article had caused sales to plummet in Liverpool and the early beginnings of a boycott campaign.

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The Sun’s 1989 front page headline after the Hillsborough Disaster.

Although bitter footballing rivals and enemies, Liverpool and Everton have a mutual understanding and respect for the importance of the Hillsborough disaster. When editor Kelvin Mackenzie posted another controversial article, this time where he compared Everton footballer Ross Barkley to a gorilla, both Merseyside club’s fans became furious with Mackenzie and The Sun. Although Barkley has represented the English national team, the footballer had a choice as a youngster to represent Nigeria due to his grandfather being of Nigerian descent. The newspaper company claimed in their apology that they did not know of Barkley’s heritage, although mentioning it in a story published in 2014. The racial slur caused outrage throughout the footballing community, with many wishing for The Sun to sack Kelvin Mackenzie. Mackenzie was terminated from his position in early 2017.

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Screenshot of Mackenzie’s article comparing Everton’s Ross Barkley to a Gorilla.

With social media becoming more prevalent in today’s society, fan activism has become more widespread and popular, due to the easy accessibility that the internet, as a platform, provides. Whether it be to support children with cancer, or stand up and protest against some the world’s problems, fan activism can serve as a gateway to participation in important aspects of civic and political life (Kahne, Feezell, and Lee 2011).

References:

Henry, J, & Sangita, S 2012, ‘Up, up, and away! The power and potential of fan activism’, Transformative Works And Cultures , Vol 10 (2012), Directory of Open Access Journals, EBSCOhost, viewed 8 August 2017.

Kahne, J, Lee, N, & Feezell, J 2013, ‘The Civic and Political Significance of Online Participatory Cultures among Youth Transitioning to Adulthood’, Journal Of Information Technology & Politics, 10, 1, pp. 1-20, Computers & Applied Sciences Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 8 August 2017.

Lopez, LK 2012, ‘Fan activists and the politics of race in The Last Airbender’, International Journal Of Cultural Studies, 15, 5, pp. 431-445, Humanities International Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 8 August 2017.

 

 

Simple Freedom?

In Bruce Sterling’s 1993 column A Short History of the Internet, Sterling says the reason why the popularity of the internet of was growing rapidly was the simple freedom that the it provided. A place where there were no overarching authority and that a node could speak as a peer to any other node.

The one question I have is, does this simple freedom of the internet still exist?

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In some aspects yes, like forums such as Reddit providing interaction amongst peers. However, Sterling’s idea that there were no bosses or authority figures has changed significantly.

Still using Reddit as an example, there are moderators put in charge of subreddits that control what content is being uploaded, along with enforcing a number of rules to ensure that the subreddit is a place for friendly discussion and interaction.

Although these moderators have good intentions, it demonstrates how much the Sterling’s theory about the internet has changed.

Trapped

For many, visiting the zoo is an experience like no other. Watching in awe as these creatures move and interact with their surroundings, something that many people would not see if these animals were in their natural habitats. As a child, visiting the zoo was an incredible event, but as we grow older, we start to have a different perspective on these animals and zoos, and in particular, how they are actually a prison for animals.

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Deprived of their natural surroundings, the freedom and space that they once had, these animals now restricted to a smaller space, and even the largest of spaces, provided by zoos, are simply not large enough. Most zoo enclosures often disregard the natural needs of the animals, often eliminating natural behaviours such as hunting and mating. This restriction in space and freedom can lead to a condition called “zoochosis”, which is often brought on from the animal being bored and lonely, and is not helped by the fact that some carers even abuse these poor animals.

Zoochosis’ psychological effect on the animals can often lead to the animals resorting to self-abuse, with the animals often biting or scratching their skin. The restrictive spaces brought on by zoos can also have a lasting effect on the physical condition of the animals, for example, an elephant name Lucy, who was stuck inside the Edmonton Zoo for several months, due the poor weather conditions. With Edmonton’s winters being below freezing and that elephants shouldn’t have to suffer winters of the North (Detroit Zoological, 2001) ultimately leaving Lucy to develop arthritis.

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Lucy the Elephant

So why do we put these animals in these terrible living conditions?

Well, to put it in simple terms, the money.

There are some private-non-profit zoos that are dependent on donations and memberships, however, most zoos are functioning for pure financial gain. In 2013, a report by a professor at George Mason University had found that over 160 million people had visited American zoos across the country, making billions for these zoos. Most of these zoos do no invest that much money into the monitoring and animal care of the animals. The monetary gains made by these zoos may benefit the companies behind the scenes, but at what cost does it help the animals?

Most zoos claim that they are providing the public with educational opportunities, however this is not the case. Most people would benefit educationally from watching animals in their actual habitat rather than spending a few minutes reading a small display. This belief from zoos that they are educating their visitors is false, as the visitors are simply more entertained by the presence of the animal rather than learning about the animal (Booth, 1991). Television shows and documentaries are much better than zoos for educational purposes, along with the fact that the animals are in their natural habitat and the main point of these pieces of media are to inform and educate their audience.

Episode five - Zebra & buterflies

So how can social media help in the fight against zoos?

With social media being the juggernaut that it is, there is now a platform for groups like PETA to promote their beliefs and messages to a wider audience. Social media also provides a platform for users to connect with others that have the same values as them. Across all social media platforms, there are many pages and groups dedicated to protecting animals from cruelty.

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Currently, PETA have over 400 thousand followers on Instagram, and over 5 million likes on their Facebook page. With an audience that large and how accessible it is to interact with organisations like PETA, their blogs, articles and videos can now be shared by millions of people, and continue to grow. If PETA utilise social media as they have been and continue to promote the reality of zoos, and the cruel disease of “zoochosis”, there will be enough support behind them to potentially close zoos in the future.

References:

‘Big Beasts, Tight Space And a Call For Change’, 2003, New York Times, vol. 152, no. 52624, p. A26.

Detroit Zoological Institute, “Detroit Zoo Intends to Send Elephants to Elephant Sanctuary,” PR Newswire, 20 May 2004.

William Booth, “Naked Ape New Zoo Attraction; Surprise Results From People-Watching Study,” The Washington Post 14 Mar. 1991

 

Watching Them Struggle

On April 28th, 2016, SBS announced that they would be airing a second season of their controversial documentary series “Struggle Street”. The three-part documentary will this time focus on a diverse range of Australians living in Queensland and Victoria. So, this leaves the question for many including myself, and that question is why?

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Why are they making another season? Why do the media love exploiting poverty for entertainment purposes? Why do I want to watch it?

These are just some of the questions that came to mind when reading the announcement about the second season of “Struggle Street”. When the documentary originally released in 2015, it copped a lot of criticism from their audience. It was a false representation of a Western Suburb, where there were only a minority of people living as presented by SBS. Former rugby league great and current Triple M radio host Mark Geyer was outraged as it ‘has gone too far’ in the way Mt Druitt has been presented by the media. Geyer, who has lived in Mt Druitt all his life, “was sick to death of the suburb I grew up in copping it from people who have never walked in the shoes of the residents.”

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But all publicity is good publicity, right?

Well, in this case, yes. The more that people complained about the show and how residents were perceived, the more tuned in to watch. Seeing people in these living conditions strikes several reactions, especially considering how some of the people presented on the show are funded by tax payers through government welfare. Many may have anger towards where their hard-earned money is going towards, and some may feel empathy for the families and the situations they are facing.

So why do we want to watch these shows?

Below is a clip from the show that has been shared around Facebook.

When this video showed up on Facebook, there were a multitude of different reactions. From personal experience, the demographic depended on the reaction towards the video. Younger audiences found it disturbing, while older generous had empathy for the baby, and anger towards the people involved in the scene. There was an inclination from social media to have a reaction towards the scene, and therefore may give them the urge to watch the documentary.

There are also multiple factors that can come into play when we watch Struggle Street, for example their relationships with each other, their ages and genders, but as an audience watching ‘poverty porn’, we don’t really connect in the way. This in turn, allows people are to harshly judge and embarrass others in public without the judged having the opportunity to respond (Couldry, 2011). We connect in the way that SBS and production companies want us to connect with the documentary, for pure entertainment. These companies know that their audience is going to turn a blind eye to the living conditions of these families based on their focus on entertaining the audience.

Questions will still be asked when they begin filming the second season, with audiences and critics wondering if they will present it similarly to the first season of struggle street, or will they take into consideration the controversy surrounding season one and change the way the present the people of Queensland and Victoria. Either way, they now know what attracts people to watching their show and probably won’t take into consideration whether the show presents a negative view of those living in poverty or not, the ultimate goal is to make sure that show brings a large number of viewers, along with copious amounts of money going into the pockets of SBS, rather than those who really need it.

References:

Couldry N (2011) Class and contemporary forms of ‘reality’ production or, hidden injuries of class 2. In: Wood H and Skeggs B (eds) Reality Television and Class. London: British Film Institute/Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 33–44.

Paterson, LL, Coffey-Glover, L, & Peplow, D 2016, ‘Negotiating stance within discourses of class: Reactions to Benefits Street’, Discourse & Society, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 195-214. Available from: 10.1177/0957926515611558. [15 March 2017].

‘I run every game’: How social media grew a multi-million-dollar empire

On November 12, 2016, the mixed martial arts world had witnessed an event that had shaken it to its core. At UFC 205, Irish UFC Featherweight champion ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor defeated reigning Lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, to become the first dual champion in UFC history. A sold-out Madison Square Garden, rose to their feet as they witnessed history, and ultimately, the story of poor Irishman becoming the face of a multi-billion-dollar company.

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His popularity grew rapidly after a video emerged on Facebook, showing a compilation of McGregor’s insults aimed at Featherweight champion at the time, Jose Aldo. The compilation showed multiple press-conferences, behind the scenes footage and interviews where McGregor’s wittiness and confidence overpowered Aldo. McGregor predicted that Aldo would come swinging and ‘felt his right-hand twitching’ when they had come face to face.

This prediction came to fruition at UFC 196, when Aldo’s 10-year undefeated streak came to an end in just 13 seconds, when McGregor dodged Aldo’s swinging right hand and knocked out the champion. This prediction, along with the fight result, gave McGregor the nickname ‘Mystic-Mac’ and ultimately began McGregor’s rise to becoming the face of the UFC.

So how did this fighter from Dublin, go from living week to week on the government’s welfare system, to becoming worth $60 million and the face of a multi-billion-dollar company?

It’s simple: social media and branding.

With McGregor’s last four fights reaching over 1 million pay-per-view buys and generating millions of dollars for the UFC, the UFC have made McGregor one of the key players in mixed martial arts. He’s been featured on video game covers, done late night interviews with Conan O’Brien and has even branched out and appeared in YouTube videos with some of YouTube’s most popular content creators.

As McGregor’s wealth grew exponentially, his choice in how he would present himself changed. He would wear tailored suits and Rolex’s to interviews demonstrating a more professionalised approach. Although he would often boast about his money and how much money he made for the UFC, he would often mention how humbled and blessed he is, focusing on his connection with the fans. This focus on relationship building would automatically see an increase in engagement with his fans which keeps them interested (Gholsten, Kuofie 2016).

According to some sources, McGregor will make approximately $60 million in the next year. This focus around how much he has earnt, became the foundation of his social media pages, such as Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

His Instagram page is particularly interesting, for its incredible growth especially after his historic UFC 205 victory, which saw his followers grow from around 4 million to 9 million in just the short span of a month. After this large growth in followers, he became much more aware of his marketability. And began to create consistent visual image for his brand that would make the right impression on his target audience. (Chritton, 2013)

His Instagram posts demonstrate a range of different photos and different captions. For example, a post featuring a family member would include a post about the importance of that person and family in his life, while another photo may be just a shot of his Rolex with a simple one line such as ‘this left hand made me millions’. This broad spectrum of posts has different connections with his audience and is a way in which McGregor can strategically boost his popularity and maintain this lavish persona.

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With his social media pages demonstrating his flamboyant and expensive lifestyle, he has recently been getting attention from boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. Both competitors have taken shots at each other through social media, generating hype for what could be one of the biggest boxing fights in history. Analysing McGregor and Mayweather’s Instagram pages, both have similar themes revolving money and family, which has caught Mayweather’s attention and had started this feud.

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Conor McGregor and his exponential growth in popularity, demonstrates perfectly how people can be their own brands. Utilising social media and focusing on a connection with his audience has become a key factor in becoming his own brand.

References:

Gholston, K, Kuofie, M, & Hakim, AC 2016, ‘Social Media for Marketing by Small Businesses’, Journal of Marketing & Management, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 24-39.

Lee, C, & Kahle, L 2016, ‘The Linguistics of Social Media: Communication of Emotions and Values in Sport’, Sport Marketing Quarterly, 25, 4, pp. 201-211, SPORTDiscus with Full Text, EBSCOhost, viewed 8 March 2017.

 

Moving Image Project (Establishing Place)

For the final MEDA101 assignment, we had the task to create a still image film, utilising audio pieces from the first assessment task and our own photography. After listening to a large variety of sound pieces, I decided to pick this one. This soundscape had a very evil vibe to it, sounding very dangerous and mysterious, which was something I tried to develop in my photography.

The photographs used in the film either have a hint of danger or mysteriousness, also utilising shade and darkness throughout the photographs to create this sense of mystery. I also tried and mess around with the camera, playing with different setting and angles. These photos are then placed in time with the soundscape at various instances. I also focused on the gaps in between the photos, as I felt that it built onto this idea of mystique.

I believe that the photos and audio work well in creating a mysterious and dangerous tone to the piece. They work well in creating a sense of place without revealing too much of the place the photos were taken.

The execution of the concept in the final piece was good, but I felt could be better with maybe taking the photos at a different time of day and using more shots with a darker shade to create more of a mysterious tone.

Week 8 Excursion Worksheet

This week, MEDA101 embarked on an excursion to the Carriageworks exhibition in Eveleigh. The class were given the task to explore the exhibition and complete a worksheet, which would be later uploaded on our blogs.

Below are the worksheet questions and answers, discussing the work of Yuta Nakamura and her piece, Atlas of Japanese Ostracon (Kitaama Igano, Minamiawaji-sji, Hyogo).

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Name of the Artwork: Atlas of Japanese Ostracon (Kitaama Igano, Minamiawaji-sji, Hyogo)

Artist: Yuta Nakamura

Year of Production: 2014

 

1. Describe the works: what are the components that make up the exhibit (e.g. still photographs, video stills, screen works, sound etc.)

 

Yuta Nakamura’s Atlas of Japanese Ostracon are a series of framed postcards along with fragments of pottery placed around the postcard.

 

2. How are these elements displayed? (e.g. projected, framed and mounted on wall, LCD screens in a particular configuration etc.)

The works are framed and mounted on a wall, all in a series.

 

3. What do these individual components convey?

 

Each of the individual components represent a piece of 20th century Japanese culture.

4. Describe the relationship between the components. For example, do the images work as single images, as a series, or as a sequence? How do multiple still images relate to the video/ moving image works?

The pictures all work as a series to demonstrate early 20th century Japanese culture. The images all represent the particular spot where the pottery could be found in Japan.

 

5. If the work includes objects, what are these and how are they displayed? How do they relate to images?

The work involves fragments of pottery, which are used in relationship to the postcards, that depict the area where these pieces of pottery could be found.

 

6. Without consulting the didactic panel, describe the intention and the subject of the work.

The intentions of this work was to demonstrate early Japanese culture and using the pieces of pottery and the postcards together in unison to demonstrate the relationship of a particular area of Japan.

 

7. What does the work mean to you? Explain which elements influence your interpretation.

To me, these works are used in a manner to represent history, in particular Japanese history. The monochrome postcards and the shards of pottery further extenuate that historical feel to the piece, and could be easily used in a museum.

 

8. These works all perform some kind of mapping, what does the work you have chosen to analyse map? What medium does it use to map?

The piece maps pottery and postcards throughout Japan, and utilises objects and photographs to map this history.

Assessment 2: Still Image Project (Spatial Portrait)

After listening to a variety of soundscapes, I decided on a soundscape that took place in Area 27, which featured sounds from Guest Park and the surrounding streets. The audio piece created a sense of calmness, with sounds being very symmetrical and repetitive.Taking inspiration from Rinko Kawauchi and her work Utatane, I decided to focus on symmetry within the photos. Utilising a variety of angles, I was able to create symmetry in an area that seems very basic and plain to the public eye. Colour was another central theme that was important to my concept of this assessment, along with the symmetry (especially images 6 & 7), created a focal point and added character to the photos.

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Helping the HEMP Party

In this weeks tutorial, we were asked to design an ‘outsider’political campaign for a micro-party in this year’s Federal Election. The micro-party that will be presented in my ‘campaign’ is the Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party, simply for the reason that social media has been on the case of the Australian government to legalise the drug.

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A few months ago, the Australian Government legalised medical marijuana, with a bill passing through parliament to allow those who suffer from chronic illness, to partake in using the drug.

Some of the questions that come to mind when creating a campaign is what do you need to consider, what kind of symbols do you reach for and which voters do you target and how you target them.

What do you need to consider?

This micro-party and this campaign may come across as controversial to particular people in society, whether it be from religious parties or the media. So one thing that should be considered is to make sure that the campaign isn’t presented as offensive.

Other things needed to consider is what tools that need to be used to promote this campaign and the resources available.

What kind of symbols do you reach for?

Within particular communities and societies, there are usually a range of symbols or words that are used amongst members of that community.

Which voters do you target? How?

Social media has allowed those with similar interests communicate and connect with one another. With Facebook, Twitter and Instagram having dedicated pages to particular activities and events, even where you can like a page to which country you live in, allowing you to connect to those around you.

The voters that would be targeted in this campaign would be those who ‘like’ particular pages that promote marijuana use in Australia, through a series of social media posts ranging in different forms such as videos, posters and the occasional dank meme.